All about the cool phenomenon known as "Accessory Dwelling Units"
In January 2013, changes to the City of Madison's zoning ordinance allowed residents to legally construct accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Not only are ADUs helping some homeowners make better use of their existing space, they're also tapping into the increasingly popular "tiny house" movement.
According to the national experts at AccessoryDwellings.org, ADUs are "a really simple and old idea: having a second, small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as an apartment over the garage, a tiny house on a foundation in the backyard, or a basement apartment."
So -- you have a garage you'd like to convert, or addition you'd like to make. Where do you start? Well, any legally added ADU will need a permit. Here's a quick list of first steps from our friends at the City.
Ten steps for planning and permitting an ADU:
1. Brainstorm your project goals and scope 2. Talk to the Madison Zoning Department about the project to determine its feasibility 3. Rough-sketch your ideas -- get creative input from family and friends 4. Identify your architect and consider potential builders (unless you're going the DIY route) 5. Work with your architect to create and refine a schematic design 6. Talk with your neighbors -- community buy-in is important, especially when adding density to already-dense areas 7. Choose a builder 8. Develop permit-ready (or construction-ready) drawings 9. Apply for your permit -- permit issued! 10. Break ground
Want to learn more? Here you go!
Green Accessory Dwelling Unit Initiative - resources for Madison homeowners who want to build environmentally friendly ADUs
10 Steps to Permitting an ADU - a quick reference guide for Madisonians interested in building (and permitting!) their own ADU
Design Coalition - design support for Madison-area residents who want to design and build ADUs
AccessoryDwellings.org - a volunteer-run resource guide on how to design, build, and get approval for your ADU, complete with zoning ordinances by state
ADUs in Madison - a Facebook page where Madisonians can share advice and resources related to ADUs
Time to Build - sample ADU floorplans, plus words of wisdom when thinking about your own ADU
Madison Zoning Department - who to contact when you're ready to get started!
The Hottest Home Amenity: In-Law Apartments, Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2014.